A 30,000 square-foot Lorton Community Center is proposed to be built adjacent to the Lorton Library at 9518 Richmond Highway (Route 1) in Lorton on a seven-acre site. The facility will include space for the Lorton Community Action Center (LCAC) and will serve as the new home for the Lorton Senior Center. The Fairfax County Planning Commission will take comments from the community about the project on Wednesday night, May 22. If approved, the construction will begin in the Spring of 2020 with completion in early 2022.
The new community center will include a single-story gymnasium, a fitness room, a game room, a kitchen, an art room and multipurpose rooms to be used for various activities and events like after-school programs, senior activities, computer and technology programs, therapeutic recreation, and classes. The project will provide a playground and a picnic area, including picnic tables.
According to Dan Storck, Supervisor of the Mount Vernon District: “The co-location of the Community Center, the Lorton Library, the Lorton Senior Center and the (LCAC) is a win-win for the community. My predecessor, Gerry Hyland saw the need for this important and long-awaited human development center in an underserved area. I support the co-location of these services because they will allow for collaboration and enhanced abilities to service those most in need in the community, many of whom are within walking distance, and cost savings.”
Added Storck: “While the LCC has always been planned to be in this location at the Lorton Library, I wanted to ensure the community was involved in the decision making. I took the unusual approach of forming a community-based steering committee to provide input to county staff on what the community needs and wants. The Lorton Community Center Steering Committee vetted four sites and chose the Lorton Library site as the best option.”
He added that the Steering Committee, comprised of 10 community members, continues to provide input to County staff on building design elements, lighting fixtures, playground and exercise equipment, interior amenities and a variety of other topics.
LCAC, which has leased the Murphy House since 1984, will be moving into the building. The current design concept for the facility provides 4,000 square feet for LCAC.
According to Linda Patterson, LCAC Executive Director: “Including (LCAC) into the Lorton Community Center is an idea that dates back to 1981. The facility allows for a local non-profit to partner with Fairfax County on a variety of services for children, families and seniors in the community. Nutrition education classes geared for interested seniors who are a part of the Lorton Senior Center; volunteer opportunities for youth who are a part of the teen center run by Neighborhood & Community Services (NCS); adult education classes offered while the food pantry is operational. Sharing a facility with NCS, the Lorton Senior Center and the Lorton Library allow all partners to work together for the betterment of the community and minimize facility costs.”
She continued: “Additionally, anyone from the community can come to the Lorton Community Center for programs, to utilize the gym and fitness area or engage in volunteering with any of the groups in the LCC. The facility is for all our neighbors in the greater South County area.”
Patterson said that LCAC provides basic needs services: groceries to more than 200 households weekly; emergency rent and utility assistance to keep families in safe, affordable housing helping more than 1,000 individuals each year; clothing assistance through our thrift store, Lorton’s Attic; and seasonal programs like Back2School, Thanksgiving, Warm Coat Outreach and our Holiday program which touch more than 1,500 seniors, parents and children.
In addition, LCAC’s educational opportunities focus on ESL classes; adult and kids nutrition education; resume writing; computer classes; case management; monthly free legal clinic; VITA tax program; one-to-one tutoring for elementary children; and after school programs at William Halley and Gunston Elementary schools.
Patterson added that LCAC has more than 800 volunteers that work throughout the year to make all of the programs possible. Engaging our neighbors, working together to make the community better for everyone is what LCAC has been doing for more than 44 years, she said.
In November 2016, Fairfax County voters approved the Human Services and Community Development Bond Referendum, which provided funding for its construction.
The property was a joint purchase between the Board (library), the Housing Authority and the Park Authority to provide parkland and build a library and community center. As outlined in the agreement, the Housing Authority funded $94,000 plus paid the settlement costs; the Board/library funded $50,000; and Park Bonds funded $256,000 of the purchase price. The Board loaned the Park Authority $256,000 from the Library Fund until the Park Bond was approved and the Park Authority paid back the $256,000 to the Library Fund.
According to Wanda Jeter, a Lorton resident who volunteers at the LCAC and the Lorton Food Bank: “It’s well due. It’s necessary and the community needs it. It would be something to enhance Lorton. Lorton doesn’t have any recreation for the children or the senior citizens. I know it’s a good thing.”
Added Temecca Gallman, a bus operator for WMATA, who lives in Hagel Circle: “I definitely think (the center) needs to be built. The expectation is that every child should have access to programs – after school, seasonal camps, art, and technology – it’s been a long time coming and we definitely need it in that area…. The kids need programs and services; they need activities; they need the same things that other kids in the county are getting.”
According to Rod Myers, a Lorton resident since 1980 who volunteers at LCAC and is a past commissioner for the Gunston Basketball Association: “I think (the project is) going to contribute to the community a lot especially in the area where it’s supposed to be built. The park is still going to be there … in my mind, it’s very important that the facility be built in this proposed area.”
For more information, visit the website: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/neighborhood-community-services/lorton-community-center.